Senate debates

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Principal Executive Office Classification Structure and Terms and Conditions

Motion for Disallowance

6:02 pm

Photo of Lyn AllisonLyn Allison (Victoria, Australian Democrats) Share this | Hansard source

I will also not be voting for this disallowance motion for the reasons that have already been well expressed today, but there are a couple of other points that I want to add. It would be easy to vote for this motion of disallowance because it is not going to get up—so we know there would be no harm done—but I agree that it is the tribunal which makes these determinations. Perhaps we should have made a submission to the tribunal saying, ‘Please do not bring down an increase which is higher than community standards and which is higher than CPI,’ because, for some reason, that is why they did it. I understand that the combined superannuation and salary increase has come to represent a grossly enlarged increase on CPI.

This leads me to another point that needs to be made today: we are dealing with an increase which is about the unequal treatment of senators and members in this place. It stems from the decision made a couple of years ago to change the superannuation entitlements for people who were coming into this place. That is, we were making decisions—and a lot of us objected very strongly and voted against the changes for this reason—for those who came after us, and so we have a mix at the present time of people who are entitled to generous superannuation pensions and entitlements and those who are in an accumulation scheme with far less generous entitlements. I can only assume that part of the reason for the Remuneration Tribunal’s decision is to make up for that disparity.

Of course, it does not make up for the disparity; it just increases the entitlements of those who were here prior to the decision being made. It is salutary that this should not occur again. In other words, if a decision is made about entitlements like superannuation in this place, it ought to apply to everyone, not just to the chosen few who happen to be here to make the decision. I see this as a probable reason for the difference between the increase and what the community can rightly expect. Like others, I think we have to leave these decision to the Remuneration Tribunal. I am reminded that perhaps next time round we need to make a submission to the tribunal and say, ‘Please do not increase our salary beyond what is reasonable in terms of community expectations.’


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